He was my papa's friend
I am 32 years old now, but I cannot forget that incident when I was in college. One day, on way to college, I saw one of my papa's friends come after me in his car. He insisted that he would drop me to my college. Aftre much reluctance, I sat inside. Immediately, he started talking nonsense and tried to touch my thigh. I was shocked and started shouting at him. He stopped the car and I got down. But I didn't tell my parents as I was afraid. That man has a daughter my age. Since then, I have a hard time trusting anyone.
Sonia, via email
It's a curse
Sexual harassment is nothing less than a curse. The law may take its own course, but the moral aspect cannot be ignored. Whenever a well-known person stoops so low as to sexual harass someone, he falls from his pedestal. In the poem, 'The Patriot', Robert Browning talks about the plight of a hero who was welcomed by the people, but a year later that hero was stoned while being led to the gallows. Thus the fallen hero mumbles-
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.
Prof NS Tasneem, ex-fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study,
Every woman should be trained in martial arts. In today's world, there is no helping hand for women. So women should take care of themselves. We need honest police and security cameras.
Vishavdeep S Dhaliwal, Chandigarh
Daily assault on fundamental rights
Every single day of our lives, women face what can only be described as a systematic assault on our fundamental right to free movement and personal dignity. The sexual harassment that women are subjected in buses constitutes a serious infringement of women's basic rights which are unique to them. Sometimes even the staff of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking winks continuously at girls. Think about it: CTU was planning to appoint female conductors. I appreciate SSP Naunihal Singh who once said if women feel any fera they have the right to say that they are daughters of Naunihal Singh.
Girls should also wear decent clothes while using transport facilities. But a campaign in coordination with NGOs should be started by the Chandigarh administration.
Anshu Chawla, president, Youth Innovative Society (NGO), Chandigarh
It's not cool, guys!
Guys teasing girls on roads while driving behind them and scaring them. All this may be funny for boys, but it leads to many road accidents too. This has happened with me many times. Guys feel that they are 'cool' by doing this, but it is utter rubbish to stake someone's life for fun.
Binoty Vij, via email
Welcome campaign by HT
The initiative of HT for women safety is a welcome step in these days, when crimes against women are increasing at a rapid pace but there is no one to redress the grievances. If God has not created any differences between males and females, who are we to create these narrow differences? Without women, the world will not be possible. Even Guru Nanak Dev Ji opposed the idea of discriminating on the basis of gender. Figures given by your reputed newspaper were shocking. It is worth stating that a number of crimes against women go unreported just because of the purpose of 'maintaining dignity'. One of the solutions is that women should be well-prepared for self-defence.
Arshdeep Singh, SAS Nagar
What makes men do it?
Unless the sample is faulted, the findings of the HT-IDC tricity survey ('95% women face sexual harassment') are really shocking, to say the least. The surveyors should consider religious places, too, in their observation of aberrant male behaviour. The question is, what has made our male population sexually so deviant? Are we Punjabis so starved of the attention of the fairer sex? Hindustan Times deserves gratitude of the readers for taking up this problem and providing a special forum for a discussion on it. I think as more boys and girls study together, play and compete together, in a healthy social environment, they will learn to accept the reality and begin to respect each other and protect each other. But sadly, in some schools and colleges, they are not permitted to interact and study together.
However, the need of the day also is to earmark separate seats in buses for women. Also, remove loudspeakers and pressure horns and see the difference.
Moreover, a disapproving scowl rather than rank indifference by lookers on also scares the mischief-mongers. A zero-tolerance approach to this problem, whether in public places or at the workplace, should be followed taking due care against false allegations too.
Prof Mohan Singh, Amritsar
'Don't let your daughter do PhD here'
If those holding powerful top positions in society, from political leaders to judges to police heads to media biggies, indulge in sexual exploitation of hapless women working under/with them, it is little wonder that all this has percolated, over the years, to the lowest level. A piece of advice that an acquaintance from the university gave me once when both my daughters entered the realm of higher education would explain the sullen situation rather clearly: "Balvinder, let your daughters, being intelligent, do any number of MAs here, but never allow them to do Phd in any subject here. I know most of the wolves here in the guise of teachers!"
I won't stay quiet
I faced harassment when I was in Class 9. I used to come home by public transport from school. I noticed a boy who used to chase me daily from school. I was very afraid but one day I told my mom and brother, who made a plan to give him a thrashing. Finally, when one day I was coming back from school, my brother hit him when he was chasing me and handed him over later to the police. Since that day, I have decided to not to stay quiet. Thank you, HT, for your articles for creating awareness among women.
Shiney, via email
Hang sexual offenders
It was horrifying to read that 95% of women in the tricity have confessed that they have been sexually assaulted outside their homes. In most of the cases, the accused are known to the victims. Such sexual assaults are committed in schools, offices, market places and even public parks and gardens. Molestation is rampant among schoolgirls and working women where the males and females have easy access to each other. Most of the women do not complain due to fear of their reputation being marred in public.
Males take undue advantage of this factor and continue to harass women. Moreover, the laws on crimes against women are not so effective and harsh, and not implemented. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 made functional by the Parliament after last year's gangrape-murder case in Delhi has also not been effective. There must be harsher punishment for those who commit heinous crimes against women; such criminals must be castrated or hanged by the lampposts in full view of the public. Only then will there be an end to sexual crimes against women. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.
RK Kapoor, Chandigarh
Hostel residents hit worst
Sexual harassment is a common problem in Panchkula. Before marriage, I used to live in hostel for working women in Sector 10 of Panchkula, where almost every girl was facing this problem. Boys find easy targets as most of the girls are working and they leave for office early in the morning and return late in the evening. Such cases increase in winters as boys take advantage of the dark and fog. There are many paying guest houses too, and girls staying there also face the same problem.
Vertika Singh, via email
Take note, and act
The Editor's Note by Ramesh Vinayak, Senior Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, on making the city safer for women raises a prime public issue based on a noble thought, action on which is the need of the hour. As suggested therein, people should get involved and blow the whistle to make their cities safer for women. Let it be a public duty.
Brij Bhushan Mittal, Chandigarh
On the contrary
Why such phobia of men?
I stand really astonished as to what dismal picture Dr Rainuka Dagar has painted of the tricity's culture in the report '95% women in tricity face sexual harassment'. Does this mean that all the society's men are notorious chauvinists, and womenfolk the innocent goddesses? The writer seems to have a phobia of men. Luckily, society is not horrible as she opines, rather convenient for the fair sex. Had the system been so terrifying, women would not have attained distinction in every sphere of life. The public system is congenial for women and absolutely not hostile. Such mindless surveys, being derogatory to the dignity of men, should not be carried so prominently, not at least by HT on its front page.
MPS Chadha, SAS Nagar